Use of available information at a European level to construct crop nitrogen response curves for the regions of the EU
Nowadays European agriculture is evolving in a context where policy-making and environmental concerns play a key role. To better assess agro-environmental policies, the AROPAj agricultural supply model needs to take into account the technical characteristics of crop management for different farms. A method to build up specific relationships between yield and nitrogen fertilization that takes into account agronomic techniques is proposed in this paper. The nitrogen response curve is based on an exponential function that integrates economic properties consistently from an agronomic point of view. In AROPAj, individual production systems (farm types) do not have a given location within a specified region and in databases technical information is scarce. The method involves determining technical and physical characteristics, inputs that allow the STICS crop model to assess the yield response to nitrogen of each crop on every farm type. From this information, a nitrogen response curve can be drawn up for each crop of each one of the farms. It can take into account both nitrogen from purchased fertilizer and nitrogen from animal effluents produced on farm. The method was designed to be adaptable to any European region, and tests carried out on two French regions covering a wide range of situations (crops, soils, climates and techniques) showed it was able to cope with varying prices and environments. The agronomic consistency of STICS inputs and curve shapes was also checked. When incorporated into the AROPAj economic model, the response curves can be used to render farms more sensitive to agricultural policy scenarios, by allowing their optimal fertilization level to be adjusted.
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